This week our small group continued our journey through the scriptures, stopping over at James 2:14-26, the popular faith and works passage. What is amazing about James is the way he bluntly hammers out the truth, breaking out the type of faith that Jesus actually died for.
So often, faith is equated with an emotional experience. That if we just work up the emotional excitement and feel passionately about it, then we have faith. Or on the flipside we reduce what the scriptures mean by faith into merely being informed or believing the right stuff about God. Although our feelings and our understandings regarding God are highly affected by what faith is, they fall short of what God really intends by faith.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he replied that it was to love God and to love others. It wasn’t because Jesus couldn’t count and responded with two commandments, it was because he was conveying that that the two were dynamically inseparable. A faith in God must be translated into actions specifically in relationship to other people.
It’s a generalization, but I can tell what people believe by what I see. When confronted with statements like that, our souls cry out because we do not think people see all of who we really are. They do not understand the great intentions and the passions that are bubbling beneath the surface. The truth is that God only counts what we truly believe, by what emerges out of our lives as an expression of worship to him.
James thrusts what we casually express as faith to another echelon. Faith at its most base level is one that is rendered into action. When James says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18). He almost taunts us, challenging us that the reality of our faith only exists in our actions.
There are many things that I can profess that I have faith in, but if these invisible declarations are not translated into a visible reality they are worthless before a God who sees faith as inextricably tied to my actions. God does not call us to work for our salvation, but to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12) through living out our faith.
Faith is trusting in a God who does not just deposit his Holy Spirit, that it may be internally housed within us, but that unleashes it to impact every realm of our lives.
Faith demands risk. We diminish faith to trusting in a God who is great and sitting on our hands, when faith must include trusting in a God who dares us to move and accomplish the great things that are on His heart. What do I really believe…?